Tuesday, December 31, 2002
New State Data Show Obesity and Diabetes Still On the Rise
The obesity and diabetes epidemics continued to escalate during
2001, according to new data released today by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC).
In a study published in the January 1, 2003, issue of the Journal
of the American Medical Association (JAMA), CDC reported that obesity
climbed from 19.8 percent of American adults to 20.9 percent of
American adults between 2000 and 2001, and diagnosed diabetes (including
gestational diabetes) increased from 7.3 percent to 7.9 percent
during the same one-year period. The increases were evident regardless
of sex, age, race and educational status.
"Obesity and diabetes are among our top public health problems
in the United States today," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson.
"The good news is that diabetes and other chronic illnesses
can be prevented with modest lifestyle changes. As we enter a new
year, it is a great opportunity for all Americans to be active and
Currently, more than 44 million Americans are considered obese
by body mass index (BMI), reflecting an increase of 74 percent since
1991. During the same time frame, diabetes increased by 61 percent,
reflecting the strong correlation between obesity and development
of diabetes. Today an estimated 17 million people have diabetes
in the United States.
Prevalence of both diagnosed diabetes and obesity varied widely
among states. Mississippi had the highest rate of obesity (25.9
percent) and Colorado had the lowest (14.4 percent). Alabama had
the highest rate of diagnosed diabetes (10.5 percent) and Minnesota
the lowest (5.0 percent).
"These increases are disturbing and are likely even underestimated,"
said CDC Director Dr. Julie L. Gerberding. "What's more important,
we're seeing a number of serious health effects resulting from overweight
The study found strong and significant associations between overweight,
obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma,
and arthritis. Compared to adults with healthy weight (BMI values
from 18.5 to 24.9), those with a body mass index of 40 or higher
had an increased risk of being diagnosed with diabetes (7.37 times
greater), high blood pressure (6.38 times greater), high cholesterol
levels (1.88 times greater), asthma (2.72 times greater), and arthritis
(4.41 times greater).
"If we continue on this same path, the results will be devastating
to both the health of the nation and to our healthcare system,"
Other study results found that African Americans had the highest
rates of both obesity (31.1 percent) and diabetes (11.2 percent)
compared with other ethnic groups. People with less than a high
school education had higher rates of both obesity (27.4 percent)
and diabetes (13 percent) than people who had a high school education.
The data in the report were obtained through the Behavioral Risk
Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a state-based telephone survey
that collects information from adults aged 18 years or older. For
this survey, participants were asked about their height and weight
and if they had ever been told by a doctor that they had diabetes.
To address the epidemics, CDC recommends 30 minutes of moderate
physical activity most days of the week to maintain good health
and 60 minutes to achieve significant weight loss. CDC also has
worked closely with states and communities to develop programs such
as the Active Community Environments Program (ACEs), which promotes
walking, bicycling and developing accessible recreation facilities.
CDC supports 59 territorial and state-based diabetes prevention
and control programs to help decrease the development of type 2
diabetes, previously called adult-onset diabetes. CDC also collaborates
with the National Institutes of Health on the National Diabetes
Education Program (NDEP) aimed at improving treatment, promoting
early diagnosis, and ultimately preventing the onset of diabetes.
Note: The BMI is a single number that evaluates an individual's
weight status in relation to height. BMI has been the most common
method of tracking weight problems and obesity among adults. BMI
is a mathematical formula in which a person's body weight in kilograms
is divided by the square of his or her height in meters (wt/(ht)2).
The BMI is highly correlated with body fat. The criteria for obesity
are the same for both men and women. Someone who is 5' 7" is
obese at 192 pounds and a person who is 5' 11" is obese at
215 pounds. More on BMI is available at:
Source: CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention
& Health Promotion
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